unhappy young man

Why is it Hard to Feel Pleasure in Early Recovery?

Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure. It’s a common symptom of depression, but it can also occur in people who are recovering from a substance use disorder. This is another hardship that isn’t talked about much, so it can take a person by surprise. While anhedonia is not pleasant, it’s important to know that it does get better over time. 

Keep reading to learn more about what anhedonia is, why it happens and how it’s treated in drug rehab in Agoura Hills. 

What is Anhedonia? Why Does it Happen? 

When you take drugs and alcohol, they boost dopamine in the brain to make you feel good. The problem is that over time, the brain adapts to these artificial boosts of dopamine production. As a result, it lowers dopamine receptors. This is why drug users have a hard time experiencing pleasure from normal activities like eating chocolate or watching a movie. 

To feel pleasure, the addiction pushes the drug user to use more and more drugs to feel the same effects. This is what causes tolerance to occur. When the drug use is stopped, the body goes through a period of withdrawal. A common withdrawal symptom is depression, which can interfere with the ability to feel pleasure. 

How to Treat Anhedonia 

Anhedonia is tricky to treat. There’s no one right way to do it, which means you’ll have to work closely with your treatment team to find ways to reduce these feelings. 

The best ways to treat anhedonia include talk therapy and depression medications. But there are times when depression medications do not work and can actually make the problem worse. Scientists are currently working on new treatments for people with anhedonia. One medication that has shown some promise is ketamine, though more research is needed. 

At Awakenings Treatment Center, we focus on the following: 

  • Learning about anhedonia so that you can be informed. 
  • Building up motivation to get through hard days. 
  • Working on developing close, intimate relationships. 
  • Coming up with healthy activities to pass your time. 
  • Challenging negative thoughts. 
  • Fostering healthy behaviors to rebuild normal pleasure circuits in the brain.

Addiction recovery has its ups and downs, and the inability to feel pleasure is one of them. It’s important to know that things do get better. In the meantime, it’s best to focus on rebuilding normal pleasure circuits in the brain by pursuing healthy activities that bring you pleasure. This could be working with animals, preparing for a 5K run or going down to the beach. 

Anhedonia Gets Better Over Time 

No matter where you are in your recovery journey, Awakenings Treatment Center is here for you. Our holistic outpatient rehab in Agoura gets our clients out and about and doing things that are pleasurable. This helps build healthy connections in the brain. We also encourage our clients to participate in individual and group counseling to continue building social connections. To learn more, please contact our admissions department today